CHICAGO -- Tim Beckham smacked a two-run homer and Chris Archer helped himself with his first Major League hit, both coming in a five-run fourth inning, to spark the Rays to a 6-5 Interleague victory over the Cubs on Tuesday.
The game marked Tampa Bay's first at Wrigley Field since 2014 when Joe Maddon was the Rays' manager. Now the Cubs' skipper, Maddon said before the game he was looking forward to catching up with his former players and coaches. He got a good look at Archer, who not only struck out eight over six innings but added an RBI single to help the Rays stay in contention in the American League Wild Card race.
"Without a doubt, we battled until literally the last pitch," Archer said. "We got it done. It wasn't the prettiest, but we got it done, and that's all that matters. We need [wins] right now and we got one today."
The right-hander was strong in his last inning when the Cubs had two on and nobody out. Archer then struck out the next three, hitting 97.8 mph on the last pitch to pinch-hitter Tommy La Stella.
"Really like the way Arch battled through that sixth inning to find a way to get out after first and second, no outs, and nobody comes across to score right there," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "That's pretty telling. Big moment in his season."
"It was huge," Archer said of the sixth. "One swing of the bat could've tied the game. And very, very happy I got the opportunity to work through it because I want the ball in those situations. And going forward, I hope I have the opportunity to get through it again."
Jon Lester took the loss, giving up five earned runs over five innings. The Cubs have now dropped six of seven Interleague games this year.
"Eight of the nine hits were ground balls through the infield," Lester said. "Maybe bad luck, maybe bad pitches, I don't know. Even the home run, I didn't think was terrible -- I thought it was the right pitch at the right time. I'll take eight hits on the ground -- I'll take my chances on that."
"That last inning -- good at-bat after good at-bat," Maddon said of his team. "We continue to get guys on base, that's been our M.O. all season long, seeing a lot of pitches, and we just haven't been consistent with the RBI hit."
The game was played in front of 42,046, the largest crowd of the season at Wrigley Field and the first time the Cubs have topped 42,000 since July 13, 2013, against the Cardinals (42,240).
"Look, a win's a win. You're going to have some of those games where teams come back. This is a very good club over here," Cash said. "They gave us every bit of it, but it was nice to see us come out on top."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED First time for everything: Archer was 0-for-23 at the plate before his RBI in the fourth. Trevor Plouffe singled to open the inning, the ball scooting under third baseman Kris Bryant's glove to left. Beckham followed with his 11th homer, launching a changeup from Lester into the basket rimming the left-field bleachers. Adeiny Hechavarria was safe on an infield single and Peter Bourjos walked to set up Archer, who singled to center. Steven Souza Jr. followed with a two-run double for a 6-1 lead.
"I saw Rizzo whenever I squared around, but I was locked in," Archer said. "Cash and I talked about it before and he said, 'Look, do it if you feel comfortable.' In that situation I felt more comfortable swinging the bat."
He surprised the Cubs. Maddon said he thought it was the first time a team had beaten their bunt defense.
"I don't know what type of hitter Chris Archer is," Bryant said, "but he looked pretty pumped after he did that. Risk versus reward, that's the perfect bunt defense for us and it's worked so many times, and that one time it didn't happen."
Final Vote update: In the Cubs' third, Rays left fielder Corey Dickerson robbed Bryant of a potential hit with a diving catch. Bryant made up for that in the fifth. With two outs, Jon Jay bunted toward third and Evan Longoria fielded the ball but overthrew first. Jay got to third on the throwing error and then scored on Bryant's infield single. A Final Vote candidate, Bryant now has hit safely in five consecutive games and 10 of his last 12.
"I don't have the definitive answer. If you can out-slug the other team, it's great. It just feels like we're not clicking at the same time. We'll figure it out. I think we have a great team here and great pitching staff and guys who really want to do well. When you have those ideas in your head, then things turn out the way you want them to." -- Bryant
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Archer is the first pitcher in Rays history with two starts against the Cubs. He's made both at Wrigley Field, which was nearly his home. The Cubs acquired the right-hander from the Indians in December 2008, and he spent three years in the Minor Leagues before he was dealt to the Rays in January 2011.
WHAT'S NEXT Rays: Left-hander Blake Snell (0-5, 5.36 ERA) will get the ball for the Wednesday finale at Wrigley Field at 2:20 p.m. ET. Snell made his return from a stint with Triple-A Durham last week against the Pirates, giving up six runs in five innings and taking the loss.
Cubs:John Lackey gets the start Wednesday. He had trouble executing his pitches in his last outing against the Nationals and gave up eight runs over 5 1/3 innings. He hasn't had much success at home this season, posting a 1-4 record and 5.13 ERA. First pitch is slated for 1:20 p.m. CT.